Don’t Be April Fooled!

It is the first of April – an apt excuse for headline japes and other media jests. Only, as I scroll through my Twitter feed on any given day, I could be forgiven for spotting some April fool action. One that caught my attention today was this sweet treat in ‘The Economist’ on the correlation between IQ – with attendant  international educational success – and ice cream consumption!

Take a look here for the article and see the spoof graph here (well, at least I assume it is a spoof!) as part of the April fool:

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Now, we can all laugh and dismiss the tomfoolery, but let’s remember that we see schools eagerly enacting initiatives based on little more than spoof graphs and serious looking logos! Today, and every day, teachers and school leaders are being fooled by interested parties to buy their shiny products and charismatic consultancy offers with the promise of school improvement. PISA data, as we well know, has been used to excuse all sorts of actions in education systems across the world!

Every school leader should be schooled in research evidence and with a sound grasp of good data and reliable methods for evaluation. If we don’t, then we could unintentionally subject our students to unnecessary guff that could prove little better then slurping an ice cream and expecting an IQ boost.

I have written about correlation and causation in education here. If we don’t understand the difference then we will continue to be April fooled by the latest fad and gimmick. The tricks played on teachers are sophisticated – as there is lots of money to be made. Glossy infographics; favourable quotes by school leaders; an impressive logo, ideally with a University link; a graph and stacks of data that masks the needle of truth; all paint a picture of probable cause, but we can fend off being fooled.

After all the April foolery jokes that have fell flat, you likely deserve a proper laugh. Take a look at Tyler Vigen’s Spurious correlations‘ for bona fide humour! Like this…


Remember, you don’t have to slurp the ice cream!

To find out more about how research evidence in education can help teachers, buy one of the handful of tickets left for ResearchEd York and join 300 fellow teachers in fending off the foolery: TICKETS HERE!

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